Goodbye, Spam: MSN Employs Innovative Technologies, Education To Reduce Unwanted E-Mail

REDMOND, Wash., May 8, 2003 — The MSN®
network of Internet services is leading the industry by helping protect consumers from unsolicited commercial e-mail with a unique combination of technologies and consumer education that goes beyond traditional filtering. By shrinking the overall flow of so-called
this multitiered approach not only prevents spam from reaching consumers’ inboxes, it stops spammers from sending unsolicited e-mail in the first place.

In addition to blocking 2.4 billion spam e-mail messages each day — roughly 80 percent of the e-mail messages that reach MSN servers — new MSN technologies help keep consumers’ e-mail addresses out of the hands of spammers and reduce the growth in the number of e-mail accounts that can be used to distribute spam. MSN also offers new online resources to further empower consumers to actively fight spam.

“Spam is no longer just an inconvenience for consumers and the online industry; it has become a major problem, one that makes it hard for people to sort through their personal e-mail and reduces productivity,”
said Lisa Gurry, group product manager for MSN.
“MSN drew a line in the sand with MSN 8 and its powerful spam-fighting tools. With these and other tools, as well as increased consumer education, we are striving to deliver the best resources to significantly reduce the flow of spam.”

Image Filter Stops Spammers From Finding New E-mail Accounts

The newest MSN spam-fighting tool, released worldwide this week as part of an upgrade to the MSN Hotmail®
Web-based e-mail service, prevents images within e-mail from loading unless the sender is listed in the receiver’s contact list. Some spam messages include so-called
“Web beacon”
images that send a message back to the sender when the receiver opens the message. These messages allow spammers to distinguish active e-mail accounts from inactive ones. Consumers can manually open images in unknown e-mail messages after reviewing the rest of the contents.

HIP Technology Reduces Number of Spammers

Another technology recently added to the MSN antispam arsenal stops people who send spam from creating many of the e-mail accounts they need to send large volumes of unsolicited mail. Since Microsoft added Human Interactive Proof (HIP) technology to the MSN Hotmail e-mail service in December, online attempts to register new e-mail accounts are down 20 percent — a sign that spammers can no longer set up computer-generated accounts as quickly or easily. HIP makes it difficult for spammers to use bots, scripts and other automated methods to set up accounts by requiring all customers to interpret and then manually retype a random sequence of partially obscured letters and numbers, displayed on the signup page, as part of the Hotmail registration process.

“Families view spam as an invasion of their personal e-mail boxes and a waste of their increasingly precious time,”
said Patricia Haegele, senior vice president and publisher of Good Housekeeping.
“We congratulate MSN for continuing to raise the bar on fighting spam. We may never rid the Internet of spam, but MSN appears determined to substantially reduce the flow.”

Following months of research, Good Housekeeping Magazine in the United States awarded MSN 8 its respected seal of approval last year, prior to the addition of HIP to MSN 8 and Hotmail. The organization continues to applaud efforts by MSN to develop and add new ways to combat spam.

MSN Filters Block 2.4 Billion Spam E-Mail Messages Each Day

The multitiered approach to spam-fighting adopted by MSN relies on multiple layers of e-mail filtering on the MSN 8 subscription service, MSN TV service and on the free MSN Hotmail service. About 2.4 billion spam e-mail messages, or around 80 percent of all e-mail messages sent to MSN customers each day, are captured before reaching consumers’ inbox. On peak days, this large amount of spam equates to two messages for every person in China or more than eight for every person in the United States, every day. Over a year, it equates to over 800 billion spam e-mail messages.

MSN 8 provides three layers of intensive filtering — the most offered with any MSN service. The first, offered through Brightmail Inc. and also available to all 120 million users of Hotmail worldwide and all MSN TV subscribers, employs a collection of more than 200 million e-mail addresses, called a Probe Network, to attract spam before it is delivered to the customer’s inbox. The second layer of filtering allows customers to choose from three levels of additional protection, Default, Enhanced and Exclusive; they also can choose to receive mail only from people on their
list, contacts that are already in their address book. The third and
“smartest” layer — an exclusive offering with MSN 8 — was developed by Microsoft®
Research, the technology research branch of Microsoft Corp. The advanced junk e-mail filter employs machine learning technology that allows customers to train it to separate desired from undesired mail. Customers simply click on the
“Not Junk”
buttons on the MSN Mail toolbar to train the filter. MSN 8 is currently available in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Japan, and will be launched in several new markets in the coming months.

“My husband and I just love our MSN 8 spam filter,”
said Carolyn Turvin, a resident of Sun City, Ariz.
“It’s simple and easy. It filters out all the e-mails we don’t want.”

Online Resources, Cross-Industry Cooperation Raise Profile of Antispam Effort

MSN also is investing time and resources in consumer education, and Microsoft is joining others in the online industry to help stem the flow of spam. The new online Consumer Resource Center is available at . The MSN site offers consumers information on how MSN technology can help reduce spam, steps consumers can take to reduce spam, and other online resources to help consumers reduce the amount of unsolicited commercial e-mail sent to them.

Last week, Microsoft and two other leading e-mail providers, America Online Inc. and Yahoo! Inc., announced plans to work together to fight spam. The three plan to initiate an open dialogue that will include organizations across the industry to drive technical standards and industry guidelines that can be adopted regardless of platform.

About MSN

MSN has 8.7 million subscriptions and attracts more than 300 million unique users worldwide per month. With localized versions available globally in 34 markets and 18 languages, MSN is a world leader in delivering Web services to consumers and digital marketing solutions to businesses worldwide. MSN 8 is the first Internet software product to have earned the trusted Good Housekeeping Seal. The most useful and innovative online service today, MSN brings consumers everything they need from the Web to make the most of their time online.

MSN is located on the Web at . MSN worldwide sites are located at .

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
) is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software — any time, any place and on any device.

Microsoft, MSN and Hotmail are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web page at on Microsoft’s corporate information pages. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may since have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at .

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